The Children of Men

by

P. D. James

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Hilda Palmer-Smith Character Analysis

Jasper’s wife Hilda, Theo notes, has become senile and disheveled in her old age. He is shocked, however, when he witnesses her as a participant—seemingly against her will—in a Quietus. Theo attempts to rescue her, but she is struck repeatedly by a member of the State Security Police and eventually drowns, and Theo himself is knocked into the treacherous surf while trying to save her. Witnessing Hilda’s murder is part of what spurs Theo to action when The Five Fishes ask him to speak with the Council on their behalf—the memory of her death disturbs him deeply. However, the novel makes clear that “the memory of his own humiliation, his body hauled up the beach and dumped as if it were an unwanted carcass,” is what truly motivates him—a fact that plays into the novel’s depiction of the way that many people pursue moral actions for selfish reasons (and that the selfishness will eventually come out one way or another).
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Hilda Palmer-Smith Character Timeline in The Children of Men

The timeline below shows where the character Hilda Palmer-Smith appears in The Children of Men. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 7
History, Mythology, and Memory Theme Icon
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
...matter. Since Year Omega, Jasper has retreated to the countryside, where he and his wife Hilda have lived in solitude and begun building a store of food, medicine, and supplies for... (full context)
History, Mythology, and Memory Theme Icon
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Apocalypse: Revelation, Renewal, and Redemption Theme Icon
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
...Jasper looks as if he as aged “ten years in a little over six weeks.” Hilda, too, appears disheveled and senile. After offering Theo a drink, Jasper tells Theo that he... (full context)
History, Mythology, and Memory Theme Icon
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Apocalypse: Revelation, Renewal, and Redemption Theme Icon
Globalism vs. Isolationism  Theme Icon
...put off by the idea of Jasper coming to live with him, suggests Jasper and Hilda apply to receive a Sojourner or two. Sojourners are immigrants from foreign countries who do... (full context)
Chapter 9
History, Mythology, and Memory Theme Icon
Fatalism and Despair vs. Action and Hope Theme Icon
Apocalypse: Revelation, Renewal, and Redemption Theme Icon
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
...thrashes as she struggles back to the shore. Theo can see that the woman is Hilda Palmer-Smith. Though it’s unclear to Theo whether she’s been forced into the Quietus, by Jasper... (full context)